Sunday, December 21, 2014

Day 10: Snowball Cookies

Be sure to check back for the rest of the recipes from this year's 12 Days of Cookies.


This is another recipe I've had floating around for years.  I've had this kind of cookie a number of times, but for whatever reason, I never got around to making them myself.  Until now.

There are many names for this kind of cookie... Mexican Wedding Cakes, Russian Tea Cakes, Italian Wedding Cookies, and of course, Snowball Cookies, to name a few.  I love how these cookies are so fitting for this time of year: a pile of snowballs...and they won't make your hands cold!  And just like snowballs, you can also build them into snowmen!

Snowball Cookies

  • 1 c. butter, at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 c. minced walnuts
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter together with 1/3 cup of powdered sugar.  Add the vanilla and flour and blend until smooth.  Mix in the walnuts.  Place the remaining 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar in a medium bowl and set aside.

Scoop dough in rounded teaspoons and roll between palms to make a smooth ball.  Place about 1 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cookies just begin to brown around the edges.  Gently roll cookies in powdered sugar and set on a wire rack to cool.  When completely cool, coat cookies again with powdered sugar.

To make Snowmen:  slowly and gently slide a toothpick down through the top of a cookie.  Make sure there are equal lengths of the toothpick poking out of the top and bottom of the cookie.  Push the bottom portion of the toothpick into the top of a second cookie, and the top of the toothpick into the bottom of a third cookie.  Decorate with mini chocolate chips, frosting, or any other candies.  Make them as simple or as ornate as you like, and have fun!  


(These little guys might be a little happier with arms and a smile, but they're still cute right?)  :)  

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Day 9: Pecan Bars

Be sure to check back for the rest of the recipes from this year's 12 Days of Cookies.


My husband and I have an on-going battle when it comes to pecan pie.  It's very high up on his list of favorites, and due to its popularity, must be on many other people's lists as well.  Now don't get me wrong - pie is one of my favorite desserts, and the idea of pecan pie is delightful.  However, when it comes to the real thing, I have yet to find one I like.  All that ooey-gooey filling, with barely enough nuts to merit the name, leaves me feeling a little gooey and queasy myself.

Enter my mother-in-law.  I don't remember the first time I tried her pecan bars, but I fell in love on the spot!  They are so wonderful.  A crisp shortbread crust, with a topping like the pie, though with more nuts and less goo.  It's the perfect middle ground for our pie dilemma.  Who knew a cookie could be the answer to world peace?  (or at least a happy marriage)

So without further ado, and with her permission, I'm sharing my sweet mother-in-law's recipe for Pecan Bars.  Enjoy!

Pecan Bars

Crust

  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 3/4 c. salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c. flour

Topping

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 c. chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix powdered sugar, butter, and 1 1/2 c flour together until smooth.  Press into a greased 9x13 pan.  Bake until lightly golden brown, 12-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another bowl whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.  Stir in the 2 Tbsp flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add the pecans.

Spread over baked crust and bake another 20 minutes.  Allow to cool in pan before cutting into bars.

Makes about 32 3x1 inch cookies.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Day 8: Gingerbread Biscotti

Be sure to check back for the rest of the recipes from this year's 12 Days of Cookies!


Today's recipe is Gingerbread Biscotti.  These cookies definitely pack a punch, with crystallized ginger.  I've had so many compliments on these cookies, I just had to share the recipe!  This recipe makes quite a few (sorry, I didn't get to count them before someone's really helpful husband sneaked in and "taste tested" some of them) :)  So be sure to share some with your friends and neighbors! They're also good dunked in a tall glass of eggnog.

Gingerbread Biscotti
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 c. butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. dark molasses
  • 1/2 - 3/4 c. minced crystallized ginger
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 c. coarsely chopped toasted almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in molasses, ginger, and eggs until well blended.

Working in three batches, mix in the dry ingredients until just blended.  Mix in the almonds.  (*Note: dough will be very sticky)

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Spoon 1/4 of the dough into dollops down the length of the baking sheet, about 1 inch from the edge.  Repeat down the other side, and again on the second baking sheet.  With floured fingers, pat each strip of dough into a flat 13-inch loaf, about 1/2 inch thick and 2 inches wide.  You should have four long, narrow loaves.

Bake 15-20 minutes until golden.  (*Note: if baking more than one pan at a time, switch pan positions halfway through baking.)

Remove to a cutting board and cut loaves crosswise into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Lay each slice back on the baking sheet on the cut side and bake 10-15 minutes.  Turn slices over and bake another 10-15 minutes, until biscotti is slightly darker and firm and dry to the touch.  Remove to wire racks to cool.  Store, completely cooled, in an airtight container.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Day 7: Boysenberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies

Be sure to check back for the rest of the recipes from this year's 12 Days of Cookies!


Here's the recipe I promised yesterday.  Another flavor combination with my browned butter almond shortbread.  I can't get enough of these cookies!  You can try it with any number of different jam flavors, but the boysenberry is my favorite.  The almond glaze brings out the almond flavor in the cookies and they just melt in your mouth.

Boysenberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies 

  • 1 c. salted butter
  • 2/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 c. flour
  • Boysenberry jam
Glaze


  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract


In a medium sauce pan, melt 1 c. butter over medium heat.  Cook, stirring continuously, until butter turns brown and starts to smell nutty.  Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature (or put it in the fridge to firm up just a little bit.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in the vanilla and 1 tsp almond extract, scraping down the sides as necessary.  Mix in the flour.

Form the dough into a rectangle and wrap in plastic.  Chill a few hours until firm (overnight is easiest).  Dough will be pretty solid.  Cut into 24 pieces.  Roll into balls and make an indentation in the top.  Chill dough again, 10-15 minutes or so.  You want dough to be firm when you bake it.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Fill each indentation with about 1/2 tsp boysenberry jam.  Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 12-14 minutes.  Allow to cool on baking sheet.

Mix the powdered sugar, water, and 1/4 tsp almond extract in a small bowl.  Drizzle over cookies and allow to set before devouring.  


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 6: Chocolate Filled Thumbprint Cookies

Be sure to check back for the rest of the recipes from this year's 12 Days of Cookies!


I don't remember the last time I made thumbprint cookies.  I've had some less-than-stellar versions in the past and I decided it was finally time to come up with a recipe that I really like.  After a little bit of tweaking, let me just say, these cookies are awesome!  The best part...the dough is super versatile.  It's a great, basic shortbread and is great as-is, but it also works well with a number of different flavor combinations.  In fact, I have another recipe coming tomorrow using this same dough (as well as a few more in mind, so keep your eyes open).  Make a double batch of this dough and save some of it for tomorrow's recipe!

Chocolate Filled Thumbprint Cookies

  • 1 c. salted butter
  • 2/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 c. flour
  • 4 oz. chopped dark chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp salted butter

In a medium sauce pan, melt 1 c. butter over medium heat.  Cook, stirring continuously, until butter turns brown and starts to smell nutty.  Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature (or put it in the fridge to firm up just a little bit.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in the vanilla and almond extract, scraping down the sides as necessary.  Mix in the flour.

Form the dough into a rectangle and wrap in plastic.  Chill a few hours until firm (overnight is easiest).  Dough will be pretty solid.  Cut into 24 pieces.  Roll into balls and make an indentation in the top.  Chill dough again, 10-15 minutes or so.  You want dough to be firm when you bake it.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 12-14 minutes.  Allow to cool on baking sheet.

While cookies are cooling, melt the chocolate and 2 Tbsp butter in a double boiler, or a heat proof bowl set over simmering water.  Spoon melted chocolate into "thumbprints" in cooled cookies.  Allow chocolate to cool and set.  Enjoy!  Makes 24 cookies.

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